Wheezing
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Reviewed By:

Phillip Aguila, MD, MBA

Phillip Aguila, MD, MBA (Respiratory medicine, Critical Care)

Dr. Aguila graduated from West Virginia University School of Medicine. He has trained in Pulmonary and Critical Care Medicine at The University of North Carolina in Chapel Hill and Internal Medicine at Medical College of Pennsylvania/Hahnemann University at Allegheny General Hospital in Pittsburgh Pennsylvania. He has served as Assistant Professor since 2010.

Eisaku Kamakura, MD

Eisaku Kamakura, MD (Respiratory medicine)

Dr. Kamakura graduated from the Tokyo Medical and Dental University, School of Dentistry, and the Niigata University School of Medicine. He trained at Yokosuka Kyosai Hospital and held positions in the Respiratory Medicine departments at Yokosuka Kyosai Hospital, Tokyo Medical and Dental University, Ome City General Hospital, and Musashino Red Cross Hospital. In 2021, he became the specially appointed assistant professor at the Department of General Medicine, Niigata University School of Medicine.

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Content updated on Jan 4, 2023

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  • Whistling sound when in breathe

  • Whistling when breathing

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About the Symptom

Wheezing is a high-pitched, coarse whistling sound made during breathing when the airway is partially blocked.

When to see a doctor

Seek professional care if you experience any of the following symptoms

  • Wheezing

Possible causes

Generally, Wheezing can be related to:

  • Tracheomalacia

    Tracheomalacia literally translates to floppy airway (trachea) and happens when the tissues of the airway instead of being rigid and stiff, are weak and floppy, causing breathing difficulties. This can be due to intrinsic issues with tissues (cartilage) of the windpipe (trachea) itself or due to something in the chest pushing on the airway such as a blood vessel. As there are highly variable severities and types of tracheomalacia, the symptoms vary greatly as well.

  • Tracheal stenosis

    Tracheal stenosis is an abnormal narrowing of the trachea, also known as the windpipe, that restricts normal breathing.

  • Sarcoidosis (including erythema nodosum-like eruption)

    A disease where small lumps (called granulomas) form in the skin, lungs, eyes, and other organs. Since various organs are affected, there is a wide range of possible symptoms. The exact causes are not well understood.

  • Vitamin B12 deficiency
  • Malabsorption syndrome / protein losing gastroenteropathy

Related serious diseases

Sometimes, Wheezing may be related to these serious diseases:

  • Congestive heart failure

    In congestive heart failure, the heart can't pump enough blood to meet the body's needs. Blood accumulates in the heart and fluid can build up in the lungs and other organs. This is a chronic and progressive condition that can be life-threatening and lead to organ damage. It often occurs as a result of other conditions that damage or weaken the heart over time like high blood pressure, heart attacks, heart valve disease, excessive alcohol intake diabetes, smoking and severe obesity.

  • Foreign body in bronchus
  • Pertussis
  • Bronchial asthma
  • Acute heart failure

Doctor's Diagnostic Questions

Your doctor may ask these questions to check for this symptom:

  • Is your breathing noisy, like wheezing or rattling?

  • Do you have a fever?

  • Do you have a cough?

  • Is your throat sore?

  • Is your nose running?

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Reviewed By:

Phillip Aguila, MD, MBA

Phillip Aguila, MD, MBA (Respiratory medicine, Critical Care)

Dr. Aguila graduated from West Virginia University School of Medicine. He has trained in Pulmonary and Critical Care Medicine at The University of North Carolina in Chapel Hill and Internal Medicine at Medical College of Pennsylvania/Hahnemann University at Allegheny General Hospital in Pittsburgh Pennsylvania. He has served as Assistant Professor since 2010.

Eisaku Kamakura, MD

Eisaku Kamakura, MD (Respiratory medicine)

Dr. Kamakura graduated from the Tokyo Medical and Dental University, School of Dentistry, and the Niigata University School of Medicine. He trained at Yokosuka Kyosai Hospital and held positions in the Respiratory Medicine departments at Yokosuka Kyosai Hospital, Tokyo Medical and Dental University, Ome City General Hospital, and Musashino Red Cross Hospital. In 2021, he became the specially appointed assistant professor at the Department of General Medicine, Niigata University School of Medicine.

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